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Why the wide receivers need to come from free agency

On Tuesday, NFL.com's Albert Breer released his first mock draft of the offseason (of which I suppose there will be many) and had California wide receiver Keenan Allen going to the Dolphins with the No. 12 overall selection.

Today, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper will conduct a conference call with media from around the country. On Sunday and Monday, NFL personnel people and coaches will begin their trek to Mobile, Alabama for the annual practices leading up to the Senior Bowl.

Yes, draft season has begun.

And I will be as excited as always to see what the every team does. This will be a seminal draft for the Dolphins as they have five picks in the first three rounds and those will determine the direction of the franchise for years to come. So this draft needs to be a home run for Miami.

But ...

This draft is only part of a strategy I believe the Dolphins must use. I continue to advocate and indeed demand that the Dolphins be major players in free agency, particularly as it applies to the wide receiver position.

Draft Keenan Allen if you like, Jeff Ireland. Draft Jason Allen or Armando Allen for all I care. But when you get to draft day, you better have a playmaking wide receiver or two or three (three is best) that was signed via free agency on the roster already.

Why?

  1. The Dolphins have sucked at drafting wide receivers under Bill Parcells/Jeff Ireland. Patrick Turner. Bust. Clyde Gates. Bust. B.J. Cunningham. Bust. Rishard Matthews. No idea but not a star. Brian Hartline. Good player coming off a breakout year. So one drafted wide receiver out of five has found success in Miami. Not a good percentage.
  2. Rookie wide receivers take a while to develop. And for a team that has failed to even identify good receivers, it is a leap of faith to believe this year's crop will not only buck the trend but develop instantly.
  3. I'm tired of covering a loser. You're tired of cheering for a loser. The Dolphins are on a losing skid, having four consecutive seasons in which they have lost more than they won -- 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, 7-9. That represents the four worst years in franchise history. I know you've read that last line before. I intend to write it over, and over, and over again, until it sinks in because it is unacceptable. And yet, not addressing the biggest position of need until the draft where I've already shown you this team apparently has trouble identifying talent, and furthermore doing it for a position that takes time to develop anyway, is a message that 2013 will likely be another year of waiting for better days. That is a loser approach. Not acceptable.

The winner approach is the one proven over time by multiple teams. The approach to take is if you have a young quarterback, you are better off giving him experienced, talented receivers to ease the sting of his growth.

This season, three rookie quarterbacks had greater success than Miami rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. You can argue they were simply better. Part of that is correct. But they also had experienced receivers that helped them. And not just experienced receivers but outstanding experienced receivers.

Andrew Luck did very well in directing seven last minute comeback victories for the Colts. He has Reggie Wayne he can throw to and Wayne is nothing less than a future Hall of Fame candidate.

Robert Griffin III took the Redskins to the playoffs. And he had experienced and outstanding Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss, another experienced and very solid playmaker to throw to. Moss is a former Pro Bowl player.

Russell Wilson is another rookie who was also better than Tannehill. He had Sidney Rice, a former Pro Bowl and 1,000-yard receiver and Golden Tate, who is in his third year and coming into his own. Rice and Tate combined for 14 touchdown catches. That's one more TD through the air than the entire Dolphins team managed in 2012. They also both averaged over 15 yards per catch, which is better than any Dolphins receiver had in 2012.

The point is young quarterbacks have a difficult job. But successful teams try to make that job easier by giving those QBs very good, experienced receivers.

This is not a new approach.

When Peyton Manning came into the league, he had Marvin Harrison as a three-year veteran. When Matt Ryan came into the league, the Falcons went out and got him future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez to throw to. Phillip Rivers had more receiver talent around him than he knew what to do with and that included Antonio Gates. Ben Roethlisberger had Hines Ward, another borderline Hall of Fame candidate. Tom Brady's first-year as a starter he had Terry Glenn and Troy Brown. The Giants got Plaxico Burress in free agency for Eli Manning's first full year as a starter.

Sure, there are examples of quarterbacks and receivers coming up together bursting on the scene like a lightning bolt. Dan Marino, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. But that is the exception rather than the rule. That is a once-a-generation thing.

You have a young QB and you expect him to succeed, get him a wide receiver who is very good and very experienced.

That is the reason I say adding the wide receiver in free agency is vital. If the Dolphins do it, they'll have a young QB but he'll be throwing to ready-made guys such as Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings and Brian Hartline -- hopefully all three! -- and have a choice of open, reliable, proven, big-time receivers.

Go through the draft and Tannehill will be throwing to guys who aren't sure about the speed of the game, are learning NFL defenses for the first time, are cross-eyed about playing 16 games and might hit the wall, and are unschoold about the veteran tricks of the trade. Worst of all, he may be throwing to guys that we eventually identify as busts.

Are the proven vets going to cost a lot? Heck yes. But it will cost less than 2009 when Miami put an offensive line on the field that cost $154 million in total contracts and that group scored, let's see, zero touchdowns.

The built from the inside out approach failed. NFL teams today don't pay the grunts. They pay the playmakers.

The Dolphins need playmakers. Wide receivers are playmakers. Wide receivers make their biggest impact when they have experience. The Dolphins have failed to identify receivers in the draft. Young quarterbacks are usually more apt to succeed if they have experienced wide receivers. The Dolphins have a young quarterback.

Is the puzzle coming together for you?

The Dolphins need to address the wide receiver position in free agency to maximize their chances of success. Period.

Comments

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"And what is the market then for a $50 million WR, that's known all over the league for being a problem child. Seriously? Tell me what the market is for him. You're telling me that Ireland deliberately took the first deal he coould find?

If the Dolphins game up TWO second round picks for a guy when he was two years younger and wasn't making $50 million a year, do you think his price tag would go up or down two years later? Is there anything Marshall did in Miami that would make you say, 'Wow, Denver really made a mistake giving up this guys for two second round picks', cause I sure as Hell didn't see it."

Craig,

He still caught 81 passes for over 1200 yards & had 6 TD's his last year in Miami with two backup QB's throwing him the football.

Do you really believe that there's another WR playing in the NFL who has that combination of size & speed that would be available for two 3rd round picks??? Personally I don't.

THIS is Armando's 3rd or 4th post about FA WRs men....

Armando isn't talking out of his @ss....he is giving you (us) inside info on the plans of the team....

I hate the idea of Ireland being the man in charge...but until Armando's blogs start turning excessively negative about Ireland being fired....i'm stuck with him...

You guys can write it down....we will target one or ALL of these FA WR hard....and I expect we will sign one...

AMEN!
use that bullhorn armando.

now, with that being loud and clear and well recieved by most fans, what position of need would you target with our top pick in this years draft? this position must be the most critically deserving with the ability to net the biggest return that justifies exausting our biggest gun, our one good shot at instantly fixing the area identified as broken... lets fantasize for a moment, lets say that dolphans everywhere are rejoicing, for they've heard the news that freeagents wallace, jennings, and finley are coming to miami, the reciever question has a definate answer,.. now you would have to look at QB, like it or not, ross was adiment about getting a superstar QB, and rightly so, in my opinion this need deserves our #1 pick yet again, if the boss disagrees, then it must be the need at POWERBACK...what do you think????

"Jpao, whats considered make or break? if we win 8 games next season is that a successful year, what about 9 and 7 and miss the playoff again? Are we really expected to win 10 games next season I seriously doubt it."

Clue,

Not happening. Even if Ireland & his staff have the best draft of their careers I'd be SHOCKED if we finish any better than 8-8. Too many holes to fill & too many fringe players on the roster.

Mark my words--Ross will NEVER fire Ireland. Ross loves this guy & I believe he'll be our GM as long as Ross is owner.

BOYCOTT THE FINS UNTIL IRELAND ID FIRED! WE'RE SICK AND TIRED OF THE LOSING! HELP MAKE THE CHANGE!

Craig is a moron. Ignore him.

I love this board...it's filled mostly with passionate fans who want to see the Fins win it all. I can agree or disagree with your points but we all generally want to see good things happen for the Fins.

But I think WE should ALL enter next season expecting to make the playoffs. If their most loyal fan base doesn't expect playoff caliber ball who will?

The team had a new HC, new OC, new DC and a rookie QB. It lost two games due to missed field goals in the 4th QTR and Overtime. It finished the 2012 season 7-9 and one win away from the Wildcard round.

We have to expect Wildcard at a minimum this year. With the $'s available, a more seasoned coaching staff, a more seasoned QB and the number of picks in rounds 1-3....for god sakes we need to expect playoff caliber perforance!!

jpao, Thought I'd take a stab at this.

Who do you prioritize and resign? Randy Starks, Reggie Bush, Chris Clemons, Sean Smith and Anthony Fasano.

Who do you let go as a parting Free Agent? Jake Long - I know a lot of folks will not agree to this but he'll be very expensive and better off in another scheme. IMO

What positions do you target in Free Agency to fill?
Oline Special Teams and Depth in general.

How does you use each round in the Draft to fill remaining needs?

As always this depends on how the picks fall. We will see c. Patterson move up boards quite a bit and may not be able to be had at 12 after all is done. But I could tell you our teams glaring weakness was play making. We need playmakers, plain and simple. With that said in the first round 3 players come to mind right now.

Mingo OLB - This is where I'd play him.
Jordan OLB -- read above
C. Patterson -- after all is said and done he will be the top listed WR in this draft.

I might consider Eifert pretty strongly here also. Or a trade down.

2nd round all depends on how the first went. If we went WR in the first and Ertz is still on the board here, I take him. If he's not available I look at best WR and CB or DB available here.

As you can see the draft would be very fluid so hard to say who but I would focus on playmakers in the top 2 rounds. People that score TD's meaning WR's and TE's and people that can create turnovers, meaning DB's or CB's.

Round 3 I would mix in Oline with playmakers and look for best available in all three categories. Might even add RB depending on Bush.


My mock offseason

Resign: Long, starks, and Smith(if cheap, if not, see ya)

FA: M Johnson(de), and Dwayne Bowe.
Trade: Finley

Draft:
1- D milliner (cb Alabama)
2- D Hopkins(wr Clemson)
2- E Lacy(rb Alabama)
3- Elam(safety Florida)
3- best ol or another wr

This would make us contenders instantly!
Why don't u pay me Ireland's salary and I'll make us better then he could dream of! Lol!

You really don't know who all those phenomenal WRs coming out from College this year are, do you? One is also a RB.

2013 MIAMI DOLPHINS WR PROJECTIONS:
#85 JENNINGS
#82 HARTLINE
#15 BESS
#25 SWOPES (TEXAS A&M ROOKIE)
#86 MATTHEWS

I agree with Mando. One more thing to take into account: this year's WR crops may have the deepness, but the first WR to be drafted overall is not the elite WR many fans expect. That's why many mocks have the Dolphins drafting the first WR this year at #12 (a bit late than usual).

I would go for a deep-threat from FA and then draft DeAndre Hopkins or Terrance Williams at #42, if I were Ireland.

If we get keenan Allen Life would become great add zjennings and life is greater

Amen Armando!

JT

You said it Mondo...I just hope the Fins management finlly gets it right...A good Tight End wouldnt hurt either..

Didn't you just make the case to fire Ireland? I mean, you DONT draft a raw, inexperienced rookie QB, or try to sign a vet like Manning & have him throwing to Larry, Mo & Curly.

ALL of the teams you mentioned were smart to provide at least ONE legit weapon around their new, young QB.

Ireland used no football sense to do this. He even borrowed more stupidity from otherds in letting Marshall go for what will amount to dud draft picks.

I don't wanna hear about the slaray cap mess as an excuse anymore. Firstly, that was created by Ireland. Secondly, Washington had a worse cap situation than we did & was able to provide RG3 with Garcon AND Josh Morgan. In fact, they ALWAYS have a cap mess but, always find ways to sign players. Ireland & his capologist have ZERO creativity in designing contracts or getting players like Dansby to restructure.

I remember babies here saying overpaying for Garcon was a mistake. Yea, some mistake that was. It's FA. Vested players earned the right to their pay day. Wnners shop at places like Macy's or Bloomy's. The phins shop at the thrift store.

It's Irelands philosophy. People still want to give this bozo more time? Enjoy more losing seasons. Some of you couldn't understand the trtuh if it sat on your face & wiggled.


DD,

I want to see the WR and TE positions upgraded BIG TIME! But that doesn't mean I feel our first pick should automatically be a WR or a TE. Nor do I feel we should blow our budget on the two positions in FA. I want us to maximize our draft and FA and I don't believe the approach above does that.

Posted by: Craig M | January 16, 2013 at 10:42 AM

You're 1 outrageously funny & hypocrtical dude!
You said in an earlier ignorance laced post that top end revceiver talent is in rd 1. You cited the names.

Yet, in this similarly ignorant post, you don't necessarily wanna draft a receiver in rd 1?

Not only that, you put the iciing on the cake & say you don't wanna overpay in FA?

Well, Mr. talkative, how the hell are you gonna upgrade the position BIG TIME if you don't wanna pay for one or draft one early?

Just stop, PLEASE! Your posts are a contradictory disaster! Also, you asked the question why overpay a guy like Wallace or a WR in FA and not Long?

Well, as if the answers haven't been given to you MANY times already but:

A. LONG DOESNT SCORE TD's

B. WITH A FULL OFFSEASON OF PRACTIcE AT LT & A FULL OFFSEASON IN THE WEIGHT ROOM, MARTIN WILL BE AN ADEQUATE LT

C. WR's LIKE WALLACE OR JENNINGS AREN'T DECLINING RAPIDLY & NOT FINISHING THEIR SEASONS ON IR!

Why do you keep asking the same moronic questins day after day when you know the answer? CHRIST!

What about the TE position ? Sure would be nice to have a K.Jackson , B.Jones,B.Coates, T.Gonzales type, someone with good running skills and a clutch type that can get you that 1st down . . . .

Mike Wallace!!!

Ireland will probably draft 5 corn fed linemen with the picks in Rounds 1-3

Actualy, worst 4 years in franchise history were the last Wanny year, Nick Satan years and Cameron year;
4-12
9-7
6-10
1-15

Now, that's TERRIBLE!

I know we haven't been in great shape the last 4 years, but where does Mandito get his data from?
false advertisement.

Just this once, in his twisted, evil mind Mace Taggart is correct.
Patterson is gonna be a good one. Still young. I believe his teammate, Justin Hunter, if not for his serious injury in 2011 would be a first rounder.
Kiffin recruited well, just can't coach.

Would you be interested by exchanging links?

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